Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Girl's Weekend Getaway in Cloudcroft and Surrounding Area

Friday-Sunday, September 7-9, 2014

A dear friend and sister Red Hatter from Weatherford, Texas, Barbara Farley, and her friend from Houston, Texas who graduated from high school with Barbara many moons ago, Saundra Dean, flew to El Paso, Texas, rented a car and drove to Cloudcroft, New Mexico. They were gracious enough to invite me to join them in this exquisite cabin they had rented situated on the side of a mountain.

I became a tour guide for the trio after they drove down the mountain to Alamogordo to pick me up. Our first stop was the wonderful Casa de Suenos Restaurant in Tularosa, New Mexico and my husband, Doug, joined us for this delicious lunch. We drove back to Cloudcroft and toured The Lodge, a beautiful Inn with a famous haunted restaurant named after the ghost, Rebecca. We did some shopping in their gift shop.

The monsoon season was still in evidence and it rained every day they were here until Sunday. It especially rained in Cloudcroft because the elevation there is around 8000 feet and those clouds really hug the mountains while dispensing their moisture. However, it was a light rain and quite enjoyable.

Saturday, after eating a healthy breakfast of fruit and such, we drove through the Mescalero Apache Reservation to Ruidoso, New Mexico to the Western Museum situated near the Ruidoso Downs Race Track. When we finished looking at all the wonderful western artifacts, we drove to Sudderth Street (main street in Ruidoso) and shopped in several establishments. By this time, we were hungry again and we drove to the Inn of the Mountain Gods, also on the reservation, to enjoy a delicious lunch in their Wendell's Restaurant. After which, Saundra and I went into the casino and made a moderate donation to the one-armed bandits (one really can't call them this anymore because they are all computerized so you just push buttons). On the way back to Cloudcroft, we stopped at Big Daddy's Diner in Cloudcroft and bought some posole, apple pie, blackberry pie, etc. for dinner in the cabin.

We talked and visited four a couple of hours while we dined on our posole and pie. Barbara was tired and went to bed. Saundra and I stayed up and watched "Enough Said", the last movie made by James Gandolfini before his death and co-star Julia Louis-Dreyfus. It is a fabulous chick flick and I highly recommend it.

Sunday, after breakfast, we drove to Malpais (Badlands) National Park near Carrizozo, New Mexico. This is a lava flow that came from fissures in the soil about 5000 years ago. At places, the lava is over l70 feet deep. Many plants have made this their home over the years as well as many critters. The National Park Service has built a 2/3 mile walkway out into the lava and it is quite interesting from which to view the whole scene.

We drove back towards Alamogordo, stopping at the Three Rivers Trading Post near the Petroglyph area handled by the National Park Service. We opted not to go into the area because it is better suited to hikers than it is to three mature ladies. However, we did go into the trading post and the woman owner is a Flathead Indian from Montana. She had wonderful stories about the petroglyphs and enthralled us for quite some time.

We were getting hungry again and since we were going in the direction of Tularosa, the girls liked the food at Casa de Suenos so much that we decided to go there again. We called Doug and asked him to join us and, of course, he was delighted to do so. Afterward, Doug went home and we drove to the White Sands National Monument especially since Saundra had never been there. We were thinking of riding one of those round sleds down one of the dunes but, when we thought about walking to the top of the dune just to slide down, we decided to just enjoy them from where we stood.

Barbara and Saundra brought me home and we visited some more before they headed back up the mountain to Cloudcroft to stay the night and pack for their return on Monday to Texas. We had a grand time together and Barbara's friend, Saundra, became my friend as well.

L to R: Carla, Barbara and Saundra at Casa de Suenos (Photo by Douglas A. Kerr)
Carla got up early enough to catch this sweet deer on the path

A shot of the central area of the cabin. It is absolutely beautiful and for sale.
Two Mountain Bluejays on the road below the cabin.
Saundra made sugar water for the hummers and filled two feeders. They loved it.
These little birds really love their sugar water
Just one more shot in silhouette
The double-sided fireplace in the central room
Saundra astride a horse at the museum. Barbara nor I could get up on that horse!
The view in front of the Inn of the Mountain Gods from the backside
We have arrived at the Malpais (Badlands)
This is a Desert Lily at the Malpais
Another shot of the Malpais
Barbara enjoying the cool breeze at the Malpais
See how the lava flowed and came together in ripples and waves
Saundra opted to stay up top while Barbara and I walked down the trail
Barbara and Carla at White Sands National Monument (Photo by Saundra Dean)
Saundra and Barbara at White Sands National Monument
The monsoons have left wading pools in the white sands
Barbara and Saundra
We need to do this again sometime. It was truly a girl's weekend and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

This is all I have to say for now.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Golden Gate Gala Red Hat Society Convention

August 20-24, 2014

What a fun convention this was for over 1200 Red Hatters from the U.S. as well as several countries around the globe.

The Marriott Marquis Hotel built to resemble a jukebox is a beautiful piece of architecture and the staff was quite accommodating in all respects making our stay even more eventful. It is situated right in the middle of a shopping area and many restaurants including Mel's Drive In.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014, I boarded a bus with many other Red Hatters and traveled to Woodside, California for a guided tour of Filoli Estate ("Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life."), built by Mr. and Mrs. William Bowers Bourn II, who lived there between 1917 and 1936. The Bourns were owners of the Empire Gold Mine, the largest hard-rock mining operation in California. Filoli was created in the likeness of the Irish estate he bought for his daughter Maud as a wedding present in 1910.

In 1936, Mr. and Mrs. William P. Roth, owners of the Matson Navigation Company, bought the property and maintained its original design as much as possible. A noted horticultural enthusiast, recognized by the Garden club of America, Mrs. Roth brought worldwide recognition to the Garden. Mrs. Roth lived here until 1975 when she donated the estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. During the blooming season, exquisite specimens of Mrs. Roth's collection of orchids are displayed in the house and garden pavilion.

The U-shaped house contains more than 36,000 square feet of interior floor space on two floors and a mezzanine. There are 44 rooms, including 9 family bedrooms, 17 bathrooms and 17 fireplaces. On one side of the U are the servants quarters and the other side houses the formal ballroom.

Carla waiting on the shuttle at El Paso, Texas Airport packed and ready for San Francisco

Doug, ready to go despite some ailments.

Marriott Marquis Hotel resembles a jukebox

We had a brief view of the Bay Bridge from the top of the hotel
The famous San Francisco fog rolling in devouring a distant tower
Doug just loves taking pictures of me!
Left, Carla ready for the Filoli Estate tour and Right, going to the Dinner Belles breakfast at Mel's
Beginning of the Filoli Estate tour and everyone has their camera out
Look closely and you'll see olives on this tree in an olive grove. They got a disease and the olives are no longer edible.
Short history of Filoli Estate. Click on it to make it large enough to read.
A lovely inviting entrance to this exquisite home
The delightfully appointed reception room
This stove is actually built for ship duty, installed by the Roths. It has magnets to keep pans from sliding off.
Lovely dining room. One can imagine what would happen to that beautiful rug if our families were dining there!
The needlepoint screen at one end of the dining room, created by the Assistance League of San Mateo "Tuesday Stitchers", had belonged to both the Bourns and the Roths. Only two sides are visible here depicting scenes of Filoli. Truly a priceless work of art.
This charming harpsichord at one end of the Drawing Room and not shown is a piano at the other end.
This room is called the "Study" but this was the favorite gathering place for both families.
Mrs. Roth is in her garden in the painting over the Study fireplace.
The massive fireplace at one end of the formal ballroom
This is just one of the Irish inspired murals on canvas on the walls of the Ballroom.
When Mrs. Bourn was asked if she wanted gold added to the ballroom, she said, "Maybe just a little."
Just one of numerous pieces of sculpture that decorate the gardens. This is at the back entrance to the home.
A sculptor's rendition of ceramic mushrooms
The Sunken Garden reflecting pool that mirrors the clock tower
This is called The Wedding Place although only one wedding was ever held here by the Roths.
This is the Herb Maze and did it ever smell wonderful!
This is the vegetable garden area. Can you see the huge gourd hanging from the bower?
After the Filoli Estate tour, we all returned to our buses and were taken to Sam's Chowder House on Half Moon Bay for lunch. We had a choice of Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, Grilled Chicken or Vegetarian Risotto, Salad and Key Lime Pie. The food was delicious.

A shot out the window of Sam's Chowder House
Barb Lesiak and DeAnna Ray looking delightfully sated at Sam's Chowder House
Kathy Pena taking a well deserved break and looking radiant as well
Here am I far right with a group of brave women who wouldn't allow a physical problem to keep them away from their Red Hat Society Convention.
Left: Another dear friend, Tara from Florida, braved her ailments to be with us
Just down and across from our hotel is the famous Mel's where *Alice was filmed
This is where the "Dinner Belles" held their brunch on Thursday morning
Carla at left ready for Beach Blanket Babylon and at right: The Asian Experience
Carla and Mary getting reacquainted
A bust of Steve Silver, the originator of the longest running musical in the USA, Beach Blanket Babylon
No pictures may be taken inside the theater. Steve Silver (1944-1995) originally titled this show A Valentine's Show renaming it Beach Blanket Babylon on June 7, 1974; and one of San Francisco's jewels began to sparkle. A philanthropist as well as a showman, he gave generously to museums, libraries, education, medical research, and the arts-which add to the beauty and splendor of the city he loved, San Francisco.

You really owe it to yourself to see this show if and when you are in San Francisco. It is professional to a fault and you will laugh until your stomach hurts. They constantly tweak it so that it portrays current political and cultural happenings. Go to Club Fugazi located at 678 Beach Blanket Babylon Boulevard in North Beach. Call 415-421-4222 for reservations and show times.

Twin dragons came waltzing in to officially open the convention at the Fisherman's Wharf Continental Breakfast
My dear friend from Dallas, Texas, Gwyn Kelley
A couple of Red Hatters from a remote town in Nevada. The gal on the left was quite funny talking about how excited they got when the young cowboys came into town on the weekends wearing those tight jeans!
The Red Hat chapter from Fullerton, California won the prize for best Asian Costume and they look lovely
I attended the "Bling Rush Romp" Reception as a Saloon Girl and yet another costume change for the Saturday morning "Painted Ladies" Victorian Breakfast and Entertainment
Two Red Hatters with wild imaginations, looking good!
Saloon Girl was a popular costume for the Bling Rush Romp
Here we have a couple of glitzy cowgirls
Brenda Wile, Colorado Springs, Colorado with Exalted Queen Mother Sue Ellen Cooper
L to R: Martha and Bonnie from Florida and Brenda from Colorado Springs, Colorado
A Pink Hatter--Isn't she exquisite!
Two loyal gals from Texas-They are always at the conventions
Dana Carvey, Entertainer Extraordinaire! Thank you, Dana for a marvelous show.
Three more of our table mates and I regret to say I was unable to capture their names. If any of you recognize them, please let me know so I can properly identify them.
Bonnie from Florida and we were fortunate enough to sit at the same table in Atlanta
L to R: Sharon from Canada, our Table Hostess, Audrey and her sister Wilma from the Boston area
Brenda and Bonnie at "Painted Ladies" Victorian Breakfast and Entertainment
Martha and Sharon enjoying the conversation
I sneaked over and took this shot of CEO Deb Granich, Esteemed Queen Mother Sue Ellen Cooper and Vice Queen Linda Murphy. What a lovely trio we have at the head of this wonderful Red Hat Society. Thanks for all you do for each of us.
The Crowning of Red Hatter of the Year 2014, Marilyn Cresci from Arizona. L to R: Queen TuTu first Red Hatter of the Year 2011, Vice Queen Linda, not seen Esteemed Queen Mother Sue Ellen, Marilyn Cresci, CEO Deb Granich, Barb Lesiak, Second Red Hatter of the Year 2012 and Mary Mimms, Third Red Hatter of the year 2013
Marilyn Cresci, a very happy Red Hatter of the Year 2014. Congrats, Marilyn!
Marilyn Cresci and Carla Kerr attending the Ambassador Gathering on Saturday

Three lovely attendees at the Chocolate Fantasy Ball on Saturday night
Carla attired for the Chocolate Fantasy Ball on the left, and on right, she is ready for the Royal Queens' Coronation as a spectator
Bonnie, Martha and Audrey sporting the adorable bibs made by Audrey and sister Wilma
Our lovely Table Hostess Sharon looking spectacular
Audrey volunteered to photograph me wearing my bib. Love it!
My sweet friend Gwyn Kelley wearing her chocolate fantasy hat creation.
Lovely Pirate Lass Edith Styles
Another fine looking Pirate Wench
Another change of costume for the Ambassador Gathering and then Sunday Evening I made myself ready for the Wenches Gone Wild Dinner at the Fisherman's Grotto near the Wharf
Another sexy Pirate Wench aka Pat Rose Atkisson, a Texas gal for sure.
This Pirate Queen is the lovely Kerry Johnson from San Francisco
Three Pirate lovelies, Center is Bonnie and Right is Martha
On the left is "Surrender the Booty" and right is Barb Lesiak looking quite wenchy
Arrgh! Tis the sweetest Lady Cranberry Pirate, Jo
An overall shot to show how many pirate ships must have been in harbor that day
This was my first adventure with the Pirate Red Hat Chapter and I can't wait to do it again. We rode the cable car back to the hotel and that was great fun too. The whole week was chock full of adventure and the Red Hatters took full advantage of everything that was offered. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this convention extra special.

I would like to especially give a shout out to Proctor and Gamble and Walmart for sponsoring Dana Carvey and Gladys Knight at our Friday and Saturday evening functions. They are both consummate entertainers. The latest Proctor and Gamble product is Always Discreet, wonderful protection against those sudden leaks when one laughs too hard or has to wait too long in the ladies room line. You can buy them at Walmart and they are less expensive than the other industrial type and very feminine.

Thanks to Douglas A. Kerr, Photographer for my costume shots. He says packing for a Red Hat Convention is like packing for a road tour of Hello Dolly!

See you next year in Indianapolis on August 13-16, 2015. Be there or be square!

*My fact checker says there is no evidence that "Alice" was filmed at Mel's even though I was told this by an employee of Mel's.

This is all I have to say for now.